Red Cross cannot resume swab tests with only half of debt paid by PhilHealth: Gordon

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The Philippine Red Cross rejected the government’s offer to pay for half of PhilHealth’s debt, insisting that full payment must me made before resuming operations on coronavirus tests charged to the agency.

“No, they should pay the whole amount because mahirap, nakabitin kami eh (that will leave us hanging),” Senator Richard Gordon, chairman of PRC, said in a media briefing on Friday.

After PRC halted its conduct of PhilHealth-funded swab tests due to the state insurer’s balance, the government committed to pay 50% of the debt by next week. The collectibles have ballooned to over ₱1 billion. 

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said half a billion pesos is a “substantial amount” and should be enough for the PRC to get back to testing PhilHealth clients.

Gordon said he does not know where the Palace got the notion it can pay half of the bill first.

Ewan ko kung saan galing yung 50%, hindi ko alam yung 50% (I don’t know where the 50% came from, I do not know that 50%),” Gordon said.

Sila lang nagsasabi (They’re the only ones saying that). They talk to themselves all the time,” he added.

As PRC is not a profit-oriented organization, it cannot shoulder the costs of testing, which is at ₱3,500 per polymerase chain reaction or PCR test.

Tingnan mo ha, babayad ka ng kalahati… Anong mangayayari ngayon? Papalakihin nanaman? Edi ninenerbyos kaming lahat. ‘Wag naman,” Gordon said.

[ Look, you’ll pay half. What happens next? It will pile up again and we’ll be nervous? Let’s not do that.]

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